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Pasture sound & retirement

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  • Pasture sound & retirement

    I adopted a 7-year-old OTTB about 1 1/2 years ago. He is a sweet boy and we worked hard on his flat work and some low jumping. In December I eventually decided to try selling him on as he is more suited to the lower-level hunters than the jumping/eventing I am interested in. A day after I'd made that decision, he slipped on the ice and sprained his fetlock. 2.5 months of stall rest later, we did extra X-rays and the vet's diagnosis was that - due to the sprain and conformation problems (angulation of the fetlock joint) - he will never be sound again for jumping. He is currently on Previcox, day turn out, and barefoot (we still have quite a large amount of ice and snow here...).
    The question is, what do I do with him now? Do I:
    a) turn him out full time in a pasture as long as he is pasture sound and "let him be"?
    b) try to go the route of injections/corrective shoeing, etc?

    Where I am struggling is that while he may be "rideable sound" with that latter option, he was not - even before his injury - a horse I could campaign (and trail-riding is well, um, "interesting" for him - read, pony tried to back up in a ravine last time we tried - so not really an option).
    I am ok supporting him in his retirement (pasture board, feeding twice a day, grooming, blankets, etc) and feel I can't sell him on now, but basically wonder how much extra-care should I provide him in his retirement?
    Would I be "neglecting" him if I don't try the injections, shoeing route?
    "puzzled in the tundra"

  • #2
    Wow-- bad luck and lots of questions!

    You can find your way through this. It would help to divide your questions into two sets.

    1. "What can I do to help him heal to the best soundness this horse can get (And do I want to)?"

    2. Assuming he's as sound as he's going to ever be now, what do I do with him?

    That question also depends on how riding sound he is. To me, riding sound and pasture sound are different.

    I'm not sure I have answered your question, but I'll be happy to try again if I missed.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat


    • #3
      My view on this is it depends on the value of the horse.

      You need to consider it probably will take some time until he is actually sound enough to sell, and even then nothing gives you 100% chance he will sell for what you're hoping.

      If its a 5 figure horse, I'd go with the injections and what not. If he's not worth that, either try to lease him out to someone who would only go on walks with him or retire him.

      Its a difficult situation, I feel for you...


      • #4
        With a lot of the retirees that come to our farm we find they often improve, sometimes a little and sometimes a lot, when the horse just goes back to basics. The special shoes are removed, they go out in a group and get a lot of movement, their diet is simplified (my husband does large animal nutrition so he can balance a diet with his eyes closed and eliminate a lot of supplements), and in general just live a more natural lifestyle. Sometimes what happens is they initially go backwards, and after that happens they start improving and end up stabilizing at a place that was better than where they originally started. This does take an experienced team of people that know how to feed a good diet, a good farrier, the right facilities, living with the right group of horses, a vet that understands the program, etc. So I guess my answer is with the right team and facilities in place no, your retirement plan is not "mean" but may in fact help your horse in the long run.
        Blogging about daily life on the retirement farm: http://paradigmfarms.blogspot.com/
        Paradigm Farms on Facebook


        • #5
          Originally posted by Rohello View Post
          I am ok supporting him in his retirement (pasture board, feeding twice a day, grooming, blankets, etc) and feel I can't sell him on now, but basically wonder how much extra-care should I provide him in his retirement?
          Would I be "neglecting" him if I don't try the injections, shoeing route?
          "puzzled in the tundra"
          No, you won't be neglecting him, you'll be giving him a better home than many horses enjoy.

          I can ride my horses without a sharps container.


          • #6
            I would try the barefoot/ no injections route and see how it goes. IME most horses do fine with this.


            • #7
              How about getting a second opinion on those xrays? Sounds like a bit of a judgement call from the vet, and while I'm sure your vet did a great job, he/she is still a fallible human like the rest of us At the very least I'd have a lameness expert/sports medicine vet take a look at the xrays, photos of your horse, and preferably video before I made any drastic decisions.

              That said, retiring a horse the way you describe is a gift... all horses should be so lucky! If you decide that that is your best option, you should sleep well at night knowing you've taken great care of this horse.
              "Sometimes the fear won't go away... so you just have to do it afraid."

              Trolls be trollin'! -DH


              • #8
                I would go barefoot, turnout, see how it goes for a good long time - 6 months or so. Then reassess. He's not a fan of trail riding now - why would he be ? He's probably not gone through your thorough, laid-back, introduction to trail riding training program. ANd if you don't have one yet, it's a super-fun adventure, thinking it all out about how you would introduce a horse to the Big Wide scary world of ravines and trashcans.

                I wouldn't make any quick decisions on his behalf until he's had the down time and rehab. You just don't know yet. One of my "sadly too young to be not so sound" horses is happily toting his two year old rider around on the leadline, and teaching her to post. You just don't know yet if it's career ending.


                • #9
                  I would get another opinion.


                  • #10
                    Is leasing him to a rider with lighter-duty aspirations than yourself an option? You get out from under some expense, horse gets attention and maybe a little more "maintenance" for his issues than is generally offered to a horse that is retired...
                    Just a thought.
                    As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.


                    • #11
                      I would definitely not retire a yound horse or spend the money on injections and corrective shoeing without a second opinion, even if that just means sending some videos and the radiographs to a well-respected lameness clinic. I did that for my horse at a cost of only $150. At the very least it will give you some piece of mind.


                      • #12
                        I'd give him a couple months off and then put him on a lunge line and see where you're at. No shoes, injections, etc, just rest and relaxation. A couple months off won't kill him and may allow him the time he needs to heal.


                        • #13
                          Time to see Dr Green. We used to do that-rest them and let them heal or not on their own. Now we want instant results to get them to heal, or not, with all sorts of pricey intervention.

                          Pull his shoes, turn him out. Take a look in 6 months and again next spring. I would not pull the plug on any career aspirations just yet. He may be able to do more then you assume with a proper lay up- I've seen it.
                          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                          • Original Poster

                            Thanks everyone for your comments & support!
                            I actually did get a couple "2nd opinions" about his X-rays and none were very optimistic for long-term soundness. One of them is from a vet & chiropractor and because of her training probably she was against the idea of injections and the other vet is a performance horse lameness expert who recommended injections and corrective shoeing - while admitting that it probably wouldn't be a long-term "fix". He also mentioned Adequan as a possibility. Hence part of my "conundrum" in my original question.
                            At this point, I guess, I may turn my boy out with "Dr Green" and perhaps put him on a lunge line at some point this summer to see if the "simple life" is helping him...
                            Thanks everyone!


                            • #15
                              You could also try Pentosan it's about $20 a shot and really helps joints. I def second some relaxing time off but you could consider Pentosan since it is much cheaper than adequan.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by findeight View Post
                                Time to see Dr Green. We used to do that-rest them and let them heal or not on their own. Now we want instant results to get them to heal, or not, with all sorts of pricey intervention.

                                Pull his shoes, turn him out. Take a look in 6 months and again next spring. I would not pull the plug on any career aspirations just yet. He may be able to do more then you assume with a proper lay up- I've seen it.
                                I completely agree with this. I have a horse that had horrid arthritis in one hock that refused to cooperate with any treatment we tried. I finally gave up and turned him away for 18 months since I had bought another riding horse. Brought him back up last spring and he was 95% improved. He will never be rock solid sound, but he is good enough to be in light work as a lesson pony. I was certain his riding days were behind him (at the age of 10) but he is doing really well and is thriving from the exercise and attention from a herd of pony crazy munchkins.


                                • #17
                                  Personally if it were me I would do the injections. Nothing is harder on a joint than inflammation. If you talking fetlocks I would ask the vet about IRAP. I find many horses are happy to have a job and if the injections keep them comfy for that I would certainly give them a try. I have had great results with IRAP and it lasts longer than regular steroid injections. I also supported with adequan loading dose and was thrilled with the results. Just a thought.